New MINI Electric Convertible 2023 review
An all-new MINI Cooper is on the way, but first the existing all-electric model gets a welcome open-top version
It's hard to recommend the MINI Electric Convertible – and not just because of the usual compromises that come with a drop-top. It very much feels like a sign-off for the existing car, instead of the start of a bold new era. Anyone after a MINI EV would be better served by waiting for the fresh generation. And anyone who’s happy to settle for a relatively old-school experience will need to stomach a hefty price tag.
It’s the new electric MINI Convertible! Well, sort of. Because despite being the first time MINI has paired an EV powertrain with an open-top body, this isn’t based on the all-new electric Cooper we’ll be seeing in a few months time, but a closing-stages special of the existing MINI Electric you can buy today.
With a strict 999-unit build run, 150 of which will be coming to the UK, the MINI Electric Convertible will be something of a niche for now, and at £52,500, it would likely have stayed that way had it been put into full series production. So this MINI Electric Convertible is more of an amuse bouche to the world of open-top MINI EV motoring.
Under the skin, the MINI Electric Convertible features the same basic powertrain as found in the hard-top, with a 181bhp electric motor powering the front wheels. Performance is spritely, rather than sporty, with 62mph reached in 8.2 seconds; that’s nearly a second down on the standard hatchback, due to a hefty 1,470kg weight figure. The extra weight comes through combining the electric powertrain with the added strengthening required of the Convertible body shape. However, as is the case with the electric hatch, the 269Nm of torque delivered by its e-motor is available from a standstill, so the car feels quicker on the road than the numbers suggest.
Despite the frankly huge weight figure, the MINI Electric still does drive well, with limited roll in the corners and a tenacious amount of front-end grip underpinned by solid, if relatively uncommunicative steering feel. The fact there’s no roof around is felt, though, with a certain amount of shake coming through the steering rack and the relatively stiff passive damper set-up.
Something worth noting is the fact the Convertible, like the hatch, has been retrofitted to accept its electric powertrain from the original combustion engine, and due to packaging constraints, the battery is a relatively small 28.9kWh (usable). This limits the MINI’s estimated WLTP range to just 124 miles, around 15 miles less than the hatchback. It’s not really backed up with high charging speeds, either, peaking at 50kW on a DC charger; that means around 30 minutes to charge the tiny battery from 10 to 80 per cent. This arguably confines the car to town driving, unless you don’t mind stopping to charge every hundred miles or so on a long motorway journey.
And it’s here where the MINI Electric Convertible really stretches its rationality, as a £50k-plus price point makes it an expensive runaround. To make matters worse, the overall design and its interior tech are right at the end of their life, so while the BMW-derived tech and basic build quality are good, the world has already moved on to sleeker and more reductionist themes – a fashion consideration, perhaps, but one that will no doubt matter to buyers of this sort of car.
Yet in context of its relative rarity, and the sort of people likely to buy it, the MINI Electric convertible might make a compelling offering. As a fashion accessory, an open-topped EV might just be the perfect city runaround. It’s compact and easy to drive, and the notion of near-silent cabrio motoring makes for an interesting niche we know others will soon occupy.
It would have been nice to see MINI lean into this captive market with more eccentric colour and trim options. Because what the MINI brand has done is establish one very desirable quality: total and utter classlessness, meaning that even with something as compromised as the MINI Electric Convertible, some buyers will love it anyway.
|Model:||MINI Electric Convertible|
|Powertrain:||1x e-motor, 28.9kWh battery|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive|
|Charging:||50kW (10-80% in 30min)|